5 The Demon Realm

Time passed swiftly, and Arion worked desperately in the stables, and as well seeking answers to his questions. Yet, no matter how diligently he searched, he remained empty-handed.

Perhaps, he mused, understanding everything quickly wasn't meant to be.

The palace was now occupied by the emperor, alongside Lysander and Thorian, respectively.

From the demon realm, disturbing news arrived of a wild beast wreaking havoc, and they urgently needed help to eliminate it, as their realm couldn't handle the crisis.

"Why don't we send the sons and daughter of the four sects?" Lysander suggested.

"I agree," Thorian chimed in. "Together, their combined strength could conquer any challenge."

Before the silver-coated throne of the emperor, the four seasons stood, officially assigned to the mission of exterminating the demon realm's menacing beast.

"Suppress the unrest and return safely!" declared the emperor.

"Yes, Your Royal Highness!"

It was an honor to be entrusted with such a vital mission.

With a flourish, the emperor summoned a golden, enigmatic sword from the palace wall, a weapon known as the Heavenly sword, wieldable only by those possessing the power of water. Its radiant glow captivated anyone fortunate enough to behold it.

Lysander cautioned, "This mission could be perilous. Use the Heavenly sword only when absolutely necessary."

Chen Liora was called forward to receive the sword, entrusted with the task of using it to vanquish the beast.

"Slash every part of the so-called beast with the treasure in your hand! Do you understand?" the emperor instructed.

"Yes, Your Royal Majesty."

Back at the Heka sect, Liora encountered Arion, blocking his path with a cheerful demeanor.

"Stable worker!" she playfully teased. "Guess what?"

Arion, unimpressed, retorted, "Move out of my way."

She persisted, her heart aflutter with excitement. "You won't believe it! I've been selected for a mission by the emperor."

Arion sneered, "Not amusing. Besides, you're like a dog sent on an errand by its owner."

But Liora was undeterred. She asked him if he would accompany her.

"No," he replied, walking away.

Undeterred, she pressed on. "Don't you want to explore the world? You've never ventured into another realm; it might help answer your lingering questions."

His irritation flared, suspecting she knew more about his plans than she should. He demanded, "Are you a spy?"

Confounded, she stammered, "What?!"

"Did you somehow steal my thoughts and think you know something about me?" Arion's gaze remained icy.

Liora's silence admitted to her intrusion.

A question hung in the air: "Aren't you coming?"

"Hey!" he yelled. Then, a thought dawned on him, and he relented, acknowledging the wisdom of her suggestion. "You're right. Exploring the world is a great idea. So when do we leave?"

Later that day, they rendezvoused in the garden, their secret journey beginning.

Liora seized him, and together, they teleported into the demon realm. The skies remained shrouded in darkness, defying the expected light.

The demon realm embraced the essence of darkness, a stark contrast to the light.

"This realm suits me better," Arion remarked, finding solace in the shadows.

Liora urged, "What are you waiting for? Let's go."

Arion couldn't help but contemplate how she could expect to control him here when darkness only fueled his powers exponentially.

As they ventured further, they encountered a vendor selling magical treasures in a place Liora had previously referred to as the market.

"The eternal darkness of our realm means we all wear black," the vendor explained. "Take this treasure; it can change your attire."

The crystalline pearl exuded an enticing aura, particularly captivating Liora. As she reached for it, Arion intervened, fearing the pearl's potential danger.

Who was this man beside her, boldly acting in her interest?

It became clear to Liora that the man was none other than the stoic stable worker, now garbed in black. Liora couldn't help but wonder if he belonged to...

"Why are you staring at me like that?" Arion questioned, his tone wary.

She focused her attention on the transformation pearl, altering her attire to match the dark surroundings.

"Is your appearance more important than dealing with the beast we were sent to confront?"

"Hey, are you folks from Golagne?" inquired a passerby, causing Liora to hurriedly pull Arion away, mindful of the potential dangers their identity could attract.

She clung to his arm, and suddenly, they collided with a robust, masculine figure. Looking up, it was Caelum, the last of the seasons, displaying a mix of warmth and intensity.

"Isn't it time you ceased your childish games?" he mused, casting a knowing glance at Liora. "You're still as impulsive as ever."

She managed a wry smile. "Oh, it's you. Long time no see."

Inside the demon Lord's palace, a place that epitomized the realm's darkness, a guard informed the demon Lord of the arrival of the Golagne individuals.

"My lord, someone spotted Chen Liora and Wu Caelum in the Ten Thousand Treasures market."

The demon Lord sneered, rolling his wine cup on a black bronze table.

"Invite them for a drink," he ordered. "Is the high emperor sending children to handle our problems? Is he mocking me?"

He consumed more wine, speechless and infuriated.

Caelum inquired about who Arion was, prompting Liora to stumble over her words. She hesitated, uncertain of how to describe him. Was he still just the stable cleaner?

"He's...he's a disciple. From Heka sect," she eventually explained.

"Why is he here if he's just a disciple?"

Liora found herself trapped, knowing she couldn't deceive Caelum, who had a knack for seeing through lies.

"No, not just a disciple! He's...he's...my friend. Yes, my friend."

Friend? How could she lie when Arion was right there?

Caelum smiled knowingly. "I see. A friend, you say?"

Liora nodded, offering a wry smile. Caelum said, leaving a smirk,

"Your friend had better be prepared. Fierce Merrick and cool Darian are approaching. Especially for me, as I am both."

A sense of foreboding hung in the air as Liora turned her gaze toward two approaching figures, cloaked in black. Delight and anger emanated from them. Was the delight directed at her, while the anger was meant for Arion?

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